CHARLOTTE – Since joining the New Orleans Saints in 2006, quarterback Drew Brees has never missed a start due to injury. But after suffering a bruised rotator cuff during a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, there is some doubt about his playing status entering Sunday's game against Carolina.
The Panthers aren't paying much attention to it. They are fully expecting to face Brees.
"He's a heck of a football player, and he's a tough-minded young man," head coach Ron Rivera said. "If there is a way for him to play, then he'll play. We are going to prepare as if everything is status quo. We are going to prepare for what they do. For the most part, we are going to prepare for him. If it's the other guy (Luke McCown), then so be it."
On Wednesday, Brees and Saints head coach Sean Payton both expressed confidence in the star quarterback's chances of playing.
Safety Roman Harper, who was Brees' teammate for eight seasons in New Orleans, understands why they're confident.
"I expect him to play. I've never known him to miss a game. He's definitely been banged up before and he's always played," Harper said. "I'll believe (he'll miss a game) when I see it. That's the type of attitude you have to have."
With Brees quarterbacking and Payton coaching, the Saints have always fielded one of the most feared offenses in the NFL. But New Orleans scored just 19 points in each of its first two games and now sits in a 0-2 hole.
"I just watched the last game, and I give Tampa Bay a lot of credit," Harper said. "It seemed like they were beating them to the punch.
"I know Sean, when he sees things like that, he is going to get it corrected. That offense has been productive for a long time, and they are going to get it right."
But the Panthers will try to make sure that doesn't happen in Week 3.
"All we can worry about is how we can be successful," Harper said. "We can't worry about who is playing quarterback. We have to do what we need to do to win this game."